How to Install and Connect a Webcam to Your PC

Smiling woman enjoying video chat on laptop

Robert Daly / Getty Images

Before connecting a webcam to a computer, lay out the webcam materials so you have a clear picture of what you need to do. Most webcams have a USB connection, a software disk for drivers, and a camera. The camera is where the lens is. Put the camera somewhere where you can see it and where it can see you.

Install Your Webcam Software

Before you can use your webcam, install its drivers on your computer. Depending on the webcam, it either came with a CD containing the drivers or with instructions to find the drivers online. If your PC doesn't have a disk drive, go to the "No Disk" section of this guide.

Use a CD

Unless otherwise instructed, insert the disk that came with the webcam before you plug it in. Windows recognizes that you are attempting to install software, and starts a wizard to guide you through the process.

If the wizard doesn't start automatically, go to the Windows taskbar and select File Explorer (on Windows 10) or My Computer (on older versions of Windows). Or, in the Search box, enter This PC. Then, click the CD drive (usually E:) to install the files on the disk.

Optical drive (E:) on Windows 10

No Disc? No Problem! Plug and Play

Many times, hardware (including some webcams) doesn't have a disk with drivers. There can be all kinds of reasons for this, but the biggest is, Windows recognizes and installs hardware without the need for additional software.

If the web camera didn't come with a software disc, plug it in and see what happens. Most often, Windows recognizes it as new hardware and is able to use it. If Windows can't use the webcam, you're guided through the process of searching for drivers (either online or on your computer) to use it.

To use Windows Update to look for drivers manually, go to the Search box and search for Device Manager.

Device Manager in Windows 10

The Device Manager displays a complete list of devices on the computer. Go to Cameras or Imaging Devices, right-click the webcam, then select Update driver. Walk through the wizard to see if Windows can find the drivers.

Update driver for webcam in Device Manager/Imaging devices

If nothing happens when you plug in the webcam, and Windows can't find the drivers, read the instruction manual or visit the manufacturer website to locate driver software for the webcam. If you don't have the disc that came with the webcam, search the manufacturer website for the driver software. As disc drives become less common, more webcam manufacturers provide the latest drivers online.

Find Your Webcam's USB (or other) Connection

Most webcams connect with a USB cord or something similar. Locate it on the computer. It's usually on the front or the back of the computer and looks like a tiny rectangle with a USB icon.

When you plug in the webcam, Windows automatically opens the installed software. Or, go to the Start menu to open the webcam software.

Keep Your Webcam on a Flat Surface

You don't have to be a professional photographer to take effective webcam videos or photos, but a few tricks of the trade do apply. Place the webcam on a flat surface​ so that pictures and videos don't appear crooked or skewed. Use a stack of books or a tripod to align the webcam to shoot video of something other than what's directly in front of the screen.

Find Your Webcam's Monitor Clip

Depending on the style and model of the webcam, it may or may not have a convenient and adjustable clip to attach it to the monitor. Use the clip to attach the webcam to the top of the monitor​ to record yourself looking at the screen. This is helpful when recording a webcast, a video diary, or chatting with friends or family.

Clip Your Webcam to your Monitor

Find a clip that sits securely on top of your monitor, then position the webcam. If the monitor is thin, it might take some creativity to secure it, but manufacturers are taking ultra-thin displays into account.

Clipping a webcam to a flat panel display is a useful and versatile place you can put it. And, it's easy to take it off and place it somewhere else.

This feature puts desktop PC webcams a step above standard laptop webcams since they tend to be stuck in the same place centered at the top of the monitor. The tradeoff is, a laptop PC is portable, so it's not a huge deal.

Once Connected, Browse to Your Webcam Software

After you connect the webcam and place it where you want it to go, turn it on and see what it can do.

Logitech Webcam Software on Windows 10

To use the software that came with the webcam, go to the Start Menu and browse to the webcam program, shown here as Logitech Webcam Software. Yours will be associated with the brand and model of your webcam.

If you don't like the software that came with your webcam, Windows 10 comes with a Camera app which works well with most brands of webcams.